Friday, March 4, 2011

Crashing And Burning

Well, hello there, boys and girls. It's me, your vet on the edge.

This post is just a little update, not a story, because lately, I've been toeing a different edge entirely than my usual ones. I don't know what I was thinking, but I decided to get a bad case of the flu. Maybe I was getting bored, or I just didn't have enough to do for a week or so. Possibly I was in danger of not spending more money than I make this month. Or it could be that I needed a new hobby, and vomiting into a shopping bag while at the same time having cardiac arrythmias seemed like just the challenge I was looking for? It's hard to say. However, regardless of the incentive, I did in fact end up with an extra bill, a change of routine (tracking my ever-rising body temp, aching, and getting up every one minute to go to the bathroom), and a new appreciation for why people actually die of the flu. (Did I get my flu shot this year? Why no; no, I didn't. Why do you ask?)

At the hospital they always ask you at check-in how you're feeling. They show you the little pain faces and ask you to pick one to describe your level of pain. I picked 5: not so hot, but not like you're having one of your limbs gnawed off by a rabid coyote. But then I had a disturbing thought: This is pain reporting from the self-same person who showed up at the hospital after having raging appendicitis for three days. That pretty much felt like someone had stabbed a 10-inch long, white-hot knife into my lower right abdomen and started stirring my guts around. But did I go to the hospital? No. Instead I thought: I'll be better tomorrow, and then went to the bathroom bent over at a 90-degree angle, projectile vomited some more, and shuffled back to bed bent over in the same 90-degree angle.

For three days.

The PA I saw for that (once I finally DID turn up at the hospital) said to me, "No one moseys in to the hospital after three days of appendicitis. NO ONE. You're what we like to call 'stoic'." He said this in tones that made it sound like the worst insult imaginable.

In view of this recollection, I thought: maybe my pain perception isn't quite standard. I'd better be more descriptive next time. So when the nurse asked me how I was feeling, I told her, "My spine is a steel chain heated to incandescence." The nurse started lauging.

Hm. Maybe that was a little too desciptive.

"I'm sorry," she gasped after a minute. "I know it's not funny that you feel that miserable. It's just a really good description."

Well, okay. At least they know that for me "five" isn't the same level of pain as (for instance) finding out that you've already seen this movie you just rented and now you're kind of bored, plus a little annoyed you paid $3.00 for the rental.

It's all been rather exciting, what with the trips to the hospital and the collapsing at the release desk and the wheelchairs and IV fluids and all that. I will mention that Tamiflu is worth its weight in gold (and evidently that's what it's made of, based on the cost.) IV fluids are also my friend, but for some reason it is the apple juice which finally made me feel like I was catching up on the hydration. Go figure. (Okay, who else now has an annoying apple juice jingle bouncing through their head? Anyone? Show of hands.)

The really really most excellent thing about this, however, has been having it borne in on me, yet again, how lucky, lucky, lucky I am in my friends. They are the coolest people EVER. I don't have help on a day-to-day basis, but that's generally just fine. Typically I can manage without any extra hands. Not this time. But all I had to do was ask, and they jumped right up and stepped in to take care of me. And as it turns out, there were others - quite a few others, actually - who volunteered to do the same.

So, thanks, guys, for bailling me out (or being willing to) when I crashed. You know who you are. I won't forget it.

Meanwhile I can stand up for a really long time now - minutes on end, I tell you! - And I no longer have a fever.

Funniest commentary on that:
Me: My temp went up to 102.3.
Friend: SELL!
Me: hee hee hee hee hee!

Moreover, I am nearly 100% capable of walking without falling down, and my equilibrium trouble has downgraded from Tilt-a-Whirl to just Tilt. Having just had pneumonia in January, you'd think all the practice I got coughing would have produced something more impressive on this go-round, but you'd be wrong. It's not a bad cough, really, but nothing like as spectacular as the January version. But alas, we can't have everything.

So, thanks to my friends who came and rescued me, and thanks to the others who would have done the same. Oh, and thanks to apple juice and graham crackers and the wonders of modern medicine and tamiflu and IV fluids, and that nurse who hit my roly little dehydrated vein on the first stick: I feel better now.


Holly said...

Dear are a menace to yourself what with being so stoic and all!

glad to hear you are back on your feet even if it is for brief periods of time!

Barb said...

Um. WOW!!! I'm so very sorry you've been so sick... like a lot of your fans, even though I've never met you you have become someone I care about!

Glad you're on the road to recovery. It sounds cliche but is sincere: Get Well Soon!! :-)

Dragon43 said...

Only person I know besides my wife that can make almost dieing sound link fun & funny at the same time.

Now work on getting back to 100% and catch up to where you were last behind.

AKDD said...

@Holly: I know, and I just can't seem to help it. I don't know what's wrong with me.

@Beth: Thanks! And bless your heart.

@Gus: Catching up to where I was last behind sounds about right... God knows I'll never get all the way caught up, so that's probably the best I can hope for!

@Evryone: Thx for the well-wishes! I'm mending.

Claire the Shepherdess said...

Oh my word! I am glad to hear you are feeling better, but really, no-one blogs when they are still on the tilt setting! No-One! Oh wait, you're stoic.... :-D

I had the tilt-a-whirls about a month ago. No other symptoms though - turned out to be a bad inner ear infection. I crashed into walls for about a week before I began to be able to walk straight again. I don't recommend having that sort of infection either.

Anonymous said...

glad you are doing better! hope your dogs were good for you while you needed rest. Sending good thoughts from New Hampshire :)

MaskedMan said...

What Holly said.

Seriously - you have a disturbing record of not taking pain seriously. Pain exists for a reason - it's there to tell you Something Is Wrong.

Best you start paying attention, or you *will* kill youself playing 'hard core.' As a medical professional, what would you think of someone whom left their pet in serious illness and/or agony for days before taking them in to the vet..? Why do you think it's acceptable for you to do the same thing to yourself?

Am I chewing you out? Yes, yes I am. You need to pay more attention - you know better.

MTWaggin said...

Not a story? OMG! For someone who is so sick (physically now...) you are amazing to find that much humor in things at this point. None the less are friends AWESOME!?!

I need orange said...

I find that knowing when to go in is not at all an easy thing to figure out.

I had an undiagnosable ruptured appendix, and truly didn't feel that bad.................... (That was after I had the kid, w/o drugs, so I had some idea what "bad" felt like....)

I'd rather get things taken care of when they're minor, but going in and being told "Um, we can't find anything." more than once or twice is not what I'd choose to be doing, either.............

Glad to know you have survived and are feeling so much better!

AKDD said...

Jeez, INO, I'm glad YOU survived, too! That's way worse (and much scarier) than what happened to me.

@MM: Yeah, I have trouble sometimes deciding when the cutoff is. I'm not *trying* to be hard core; I just don't have good internal judgement about it. I tend to ask myself: Now, CAN you manage, but you just don't WANT to? And if I CAN manage - even if it sucks - I figure I'm not really that ill, I just FEEL crappy. I tend to have to have either prior experience with the same event (like if I were to have appendicitis again, I'd have a scale against which to judge) or I give myself a known cutoff: Like, when I went over 101.5 degrees, I decided it was time to seek medical attention.

Plus, I'm used to fending for myself and being able to manage stuff, so my knee-jerk reaction is to figure out how to manage on my own. I have to reach a point where I actually CAN'T manage before I go "Okay, now it's time to ask for help."

Anyway, I'm pretty much confining myself to work and sleep (both of which mostly occur under a pile of warm dogs.) Okay, I AM going to a hockey game on Saturday, as long as I'm not too tired. But apart from that, I'm into energy conservation in a big way right now.

sluj said...

You're not alone in finding the pain scale hospitals use ambiguous; fortunately, someone came up with a better one:

Hope you're back to wondering about giraffes ASAP.

AKDD said...

Sluj, that was hilarious! Thx for the link!

I need orange said...

Hope you will give us an "I'm ok, just busy" -- you weren't all better when you posted this.....

Hope all is well!

Anonymous said...

If you saw an ANIMAL vomiting and in pain, you'd want medical care for it right away. But you held off going to the hospital for yourself?!?! Since when are animals more important than you?

Barb said...

I hope you're feeling well now!

Just wanted to let you know that we miss you!